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Published: August 16th 2012
Bridge for animals to cross the road
1st Aug ’12 Banff to Jasper, Alberta
Today we travelled along the Icefields Parkway from just past Lake Louise to Jasper. We followed mountains that looked like the spine of the Rockies – all sharp, jagged angles leading one into another forming a massive long ridge.
The other side of the valley were equally huge mountains and lots of glaciers. We stopped several times to take photos and then arrived at the Icefields Centre. Yesterday at the Banff Gondola we bought double attraction tickets so today were were going on our other attraction – the Ice Explorer. The tyres of the vehicle were 5 foot in diameter!
We set off down a 32 degree slope and then out onto the blue glacier ice, past glacier meltwater streams and hanging glaciers in the mountains at the sides. Once we had driven as far as we were allowed to go the truck stopped and we had 20 minutes to take photos and slide around on the ice. The driver explained how glaciers were formed and the various features of them, crevasses, ravines and melt water holes. It was seriously cold, but in winter it gets down to – 50!
Then we headed back again. It was an interesting trip but maybe not really great value for money, especially as we later discovered that we could have parked and walked up to the toe of the glacier for free anyway, ok it wouldn’t have been as high up onto it but we could still have said we had walked on a glacier. However the guide did say that quite a few people had died on this glacier due to the hidden crevasses and other dangers and the fact that anyone can just walk out onto it and we wouldn’t have wanted that now would we!
Carrying on and a slight delay due to goats in the road. A stop to see a marvellous waterfall made up by 5 streams coming over the top of the cliff to join up and form a great waterfall. Then another stop to watch a black bear eating berries and bushes right next to the road!
We then turned off to see the Athabasca Falls, which were a fearsome sight – real power of nature in the raw stuff. From here rather than continue on the Parkway we took the Old Highway 93
which was a rougher road, a lot quieter and bear central!! There were black bears crossing the road, eating by the road, rootling and rummaging in the bushes and just sauntering along! We also saw a huge grizzly foraging in the trees and bushes just back from the road, it was a tad disconcerting when it started walking in our direction, but I guess the bloke on a bicycle who had also stopped had more to worry about!! However the bear just stared at us all in our cars and carried on his way.
We followed a winding road back and forth up to the Edith Cavell Mountain - named after the British nurse who saved the lives of soldiers from both sides during the First World War. She also helped 200 allies escape the Germans and was subsequently tried for treason and executed by a German firing squad. Her heroism was later recognised and Canada named the mountain after her.
Howard hiked up to the lake while I stayed in the car and it poured down. The mountain views had all but vanished as we drove back down again. By the time we reached Jasper and had
a look around this tiny but sweet town it was raining hard and everything was grey. What a difference a day makes!
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